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Deepfake of Bella Hadid misrepresents her statements on Israel

Deepfake of Bella Hadid misrepresents her statements on Israel - Featured image

Author(s): Natalie WADE / AFP USA

Social media users are sharing a video in which Bella Hadid appears to apologize for past remarks and says she stands with Israel following the October 7 attack by Hamas militants. But the clip is a deepfake; it is a manipulated version of a speech the model gave in 2016 about her battle with Lyme disease.

“Bella Hadid stands with Israel,” says an October 28, 2023 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, sharing the video with Hebrew captions.

In the clip, the supermodel — whose father is Palestinian — appears to say: “On October 7, 2023, Israel faced a tragic attack by Hamas. I can’t stay silent. I apologize for my past remarks. This tragedy has opened my eyes to the pain endured here and I stand with Israel against terror.”

Screenshot of an X post taken November 2, 2023

Similar posts spread across Facebook, TikTok and YouTube — some with #WeFixedItForBella.

The posts come as Israeli forces continue to bombard the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack. Fighters associated with the Palestinian Islamist movement killed more than 1,400 people — mainly civilians — and took some 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said more than 9,200 people, mostly women and children, had been killed in air strikes as of November 3. Some 16 hospitals across Gaza are no longer functioning because of damage from strikes and the lack of fuel, the ministry said.

The conflict has sparked protests around the world — as well as a torrent of misinformation online, including altered images of celebrities appearing to show support for one side or the other.

The video of Hadid is the latest example of that trend.

Hadid has been a vocal proponent of Palestinian rights for years, making several public statements about the issue and facing backlash for her advocacy.

After initial silence on the war, she shared a statement in an October 26, 2023 Instagram post saying: “My heart is bleeding with pain from the trauma I am seeing unfold, as well as the generational trauma of my Palestinian blood” (archived here).

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

The video of her purportedly rebuking these statements is inauthentic.

A reverse image search indicates the clip was altered from a speech Hadid gave in 2016 at the Global Lyme Alliance gala in New York (archived here).

Hadid, who has suffered from Lyme disease, spoke about her experience battling the illness. She did not mention Israel.

Several features in the original video match those in the deepfake, including Hadid’s clothes and jewelry, the position of the microphone and the backdrop.

Screenshot of an X post taken November 3, 2023, with elements highlighted by AFP
Screenshot of a YouTube video taken November 3, 2023, with elements highlighted by AFP

Other visual clues indicate the clip was manipulated with AI, including unnatural head movements and moments where her mouth is not synced with the audio.

Beyond changing the visual elements of a video, AI tools can also recreate vocals.

“With a small audio sample, an AI voice clone can be used to leave voicemails and voice texts. It can even be used as a live voice changer on phone calls,” Wasim Khaled, chief executive of Blackbird.AI, previously told AFP.

More of AFP’s reporting on misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war is available here.

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Originally published here.